- The 45 Ranch project created more than 25 acres of new or enhanced wetlands and wet meadows.
- The ranch provides the most significant bottomland habitat along 52 miles of the South Fork of the Owyhee River.
- This aerial view of the 45 Ranch shows preferred alternatives for Phase I and II.
- Phase I involved constructing and irrigating the wet meadow–more than 20 berms were added to create more diverse habitat.
- This new diversion rapid raises the water level to feed the new irrigation pipe and blend with the natural surroundings
- The reconstructed bank of the west road with features that reduce erosion and sedimentation.
45 Ranch Habitat Restoration
Owners, tribes, public agencies and non-profits joined together to complete an ambitious habitat restoration.
The 45 Ranch, along the South Fork of the Owyhee River in the remote canyon lands of southwest Idaho, encompasses the most ecologically significant bottomlands habitat within the entire 52 miles of the river. Previous land management practices reduced the Ranch’s once-vibrant wet meadows to dry, desiccated fields of weeds. The Nature Conservancy engaged GeoEngineers to develop and execute a comprehensive restoration strategy to return the ranch to its historical habitat and natural function.
GeoEngineers’ restoration strategy included public involvement, preliminary designs, funding acquisition and ultimately a two-phase design and construction approach. We assisted in securing $170,000 in grants for the construction of Phase 1 and then secured environmental permits, developed final designs and construction documents, facilitated contractor selection and oversaw the construction of Phase 1 in 2008. The project scope included:
- Replacing a defunct diversion dam with a natural “rapid” that is passable to fish and rafters
- Installing one mile of pipe to replace a dysfunctional irrigation ditch
- Constructing a pond to irrigate recreated wetlands, diversify habitat and provide fire protection
- Reconstructing an eroded road to restore public access to more than 30,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management land
- Restored historical conditions in an ecologically sensitive area
- Created 25+ acres of restored wetlands, installed an environmentally sustainable gravity-fed irrigation system and created a new habitat/fire-safety pond, among other improvements
- Renewed wetland habitat by recreating and augmenting natural systems to significantly enhance fish and wildlife habitat, improve natural river functions, provide greater recreational access and improve ranch operations
- A highly collaborative effort between ranchers, multiple agencies, organizations and tribes working together to achieve successful outcomes